String of pearls
John Carman, Linda Mangano’s defense attorney, continued his cross-examination of Harendra Singh Monday — drawing Judge Joan Azrack’s attention three times before morning break alone.
Early on, Carman asked Singh about a password — moticash1116 — which Singh used for his computer at HR Singletons restaurant.
The numbers, Singh acknowledged, were his birthday, Nov. 16.
And as for the letters? Carman asked.
Singh said it was the name of his dog.
“Your dog’s name was moticash?” Carman pressed.
“My dog’s name,” Singh replied, “is Moti.”
Carman then asked Singh if “moti” meant “fat” in Hindi.
Singh, clearly annoyed, explained that “motu” meant fat and that “moti” meant pearl.
He had to repeat “pearl” three times for the court transcriber.
At the fourth go-round, Azrack jumped in, repeating the word and spelling it: “Pearl,” she said. “P-E-A-R-L.”
Carman then said, and with attitude, “Interesting.”
Azrack immediately jumped in.
“Mr. Carman, it is five minutes into your cross,” she said. “No comments.”
Carman, referencing Singh’s comment during the first Mangano trial, that the former restaurateur lived “modestly,” showed jurors photographs of Singh’s mansion in Laurel Hollow.
During the last trial, Singh had said his home was in the “poor” section of Laurel Hollow.
That didn’t come up this time around.
But when Carman introduced into evidence a photograph of the basement in Singh’s home, Singh tried to get a jump on him.
During the last trial, as the same photograph loomed on the courtroom’s big screen, Carman had asked Singh whether the photograph showed “a bowling alley” in Singh’s home.
“It is not a bowling alley,” Singh said Monday — perhaps in anticipation of Carman making the same observation before a new jury.
Carman, however, was not to be denied.
“It could be mistaken for one,” Carman said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile objected.
Carman also asked about Singh’s three-car garage.
And about his cars.
He said he had an Infiniti — which Singh said he leased.
He said he had Audi Q7 — a high-end SUV, which Singh said he also leased.
“Is that a modest car?” Carman asked.
And then Carman showed a photograph of a Maserati.
“I don’t know if that is the exact one,” Singh said, “but it looks like [it].”
Singh said he bought the Maserati — for $150,000.
But under more questioning, he acknowledged that the money came from his businesses rather than himself.
Singh acknowledged that he had not paid the mortgage on his house for years, and that he hadn’t paid $42,000 in property taxes either.
“So, basically, you are living in Laurel Hollow for free?” Carman pressed.
“I am living in Laurel Hollow, but I cannot pay my taxes and mortgage,” Singh replied.
Carman, repeatedly, pressed Singh on whether he had talked to Linda Mangano about work she did for Singh’s company.
Singh, repeatedly, said no.
At one point, Singh again put words into Linda Mangano’s mouth.
“‘Oh thank you for giving [me] this paycheck,’” Singh quoted Linda Mangano as saying, “‘It is a great help to us financially.’”
Singh did not quote Linda Mangano making that statement during the first trial.
Carman began his second day of cross-examination asking Singh to define “mogul” — as in therestaurantmogul, which was his email address.
“Mogul is a classy word, means someone who owns many restaurants …,” Singh said, before adding that emperors in India are referred to as moguls.
During the last hours of his cross-examination, Singh appeared to grow more and more testy as Carman prodded him about his relationship with Linda Mangano.
“She never cooked meatballs for you in 20 years?” Carman asked. “She never cooked you hamburgers?”
“First of all, I am Hindi,” Singh replied evenly. “I don’t eat beef.”
Later, Singh said he knew nothing about Linda Mangano’s community or charitable work.
“I didn’t know what she was doing when, as she was calling herself, the 'first lady of Nassau County,'” he said,
And he repeated, over and over and over again, that Mangano did almost nothing for the more than $450,000 she received from a no-show job Singh provided over several years.
“She was taking a fat check every week,” Singh testified.
“As long as she got what she wanted, she was happy,” he added, several times later.
“I am always nice to people in power,” Singh said at one point.
Carman then — again — asked him about how he routinely cultivated friendships with powerful people.
With that, Singh’s cool demeanor melted away.
“There is no friendship,” Singh snapped.
“When you buy a couple of tickets, you become big supporter,” he said.
“When you hold a fundraiser, you become very good friend,” Singh continued.
“When you stuff money in their pockets, you bribe them, then you are family,” he said.
“So when you bribe people, you become family?” Carman asked
“Correct,” Singh replied.
“If you don’t do anything for them, you are not their friend,” he added a few moments later.
At 3:04 p.m., Carman completed his cross-examination.
And the court took a lengthy break.
At 3:50 p.m., Mirabile rose from the prosecution table.
“The government has no redirect,” she said.
Singh, as he had during the first trial and the second, rose slowly from the witness stand.
He looked neither to his right, where the prosecution stood, nor to his left, where Linda and Edward Mangano were seated at the defense table, before leaving the courtroom.
At some point, however, Singh will be back to hear Azrack’s decision on his sentence.